If you have ever seen a postcard or a photo of Greece in a book, it is very likely that you have seen the charming square buildings with blue-domed roofs that make up the landscape of the island of Santorini. Due to its being ruined by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, its beaches are composed of lava rocks in red, white, and black, and its two most famous towns, Oia and Firá, sit on cliffs that overlook an underwater crater.
If beauty is what you are looking for, Santorini is the holiday destination for you. Here is a look at all the things you can do there.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Santorini, Greece?
The best time to visit Santorini, Greece is during the so-called “shoulder seasons.” September-October and April-May are just on either side of the busiest, hottest part of the year, and are thusly the ideal time to travel. There are fewer tourists then, and the temperatures are milder while still being sunny and pleasant.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Santorini, Greece
Watch the Sunset
You would be hard-pressed to find a sunset whose beauty can even come close to the one viewed from Oia. This is one of Santorini’s most-visited towns, and you will surely have to vie with a lot of other tourists to get the best spot to watch the sun go down, but trust us, it is one of the best things to do in Greece if you’re a photographer. Oia’s sunsets are famous all over the world, and it only takes one gaze out at the colorful landscape and the glittering sea bathed in pink to see why.
If you can’t find a spot in Oia, the sunsets in Imerovigli are stunning as well!
Go out on a Boat
Staying on the topic of sunsets, you can also take a “sunset cruise” in Santorini to see the colorful phenomenon from aboard a catamaran at sea. Many of these cruises also offer food and drinks, as well as opportunities to go swimming or snorkeling. You can also take a different cruise to tour an active volcano, visit the hot springs, and explore the White Sand and Red Sand Beaches.
Taste the Wine
Aside from being world-famous for its spectacular sunsets, Santorini is also wold-famous for its wine. Crafted from Assyritiko grapes, these wines are full of flavor, and you can try many different varieties by attending a wine tasting at one of the many local wineries. You can join a tour that will take you to the best of these wineries, or you can make your own itinerary, which makes this a fun choice regardless of how you like to plan your vacation.
Some of the Best Attractions in Santorini, Greece
Firá is the capital of Santorini, and is most likely the place you think of when you envision Greece, thanks to the ubiquity of great photographs of its whitewashed houses and churches with azure domes. This city is colorful and amazing to see — and truly symbolic of Greece’s culture. To reach it, you can walk up a steep cliff from the port of Skala, take a cable-car, or you can go old-school and hire a mule to take you there. Since this is a popular tourist destination, you won’t have trouble finding hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops here, as well as lots of jewelry shops.
Akrotíri Archaeological Site
Much like Italy’s Pompeii, the ancient city of Akrotíri was completely buried under a sea of lava in the 16th century BC when a nearby volcano erupted (this also created the caldera, the underwater crater we mentioned before). Extraordinarily well-preserved, Akrotíri is full of artifacts left behind by those who once lived there, such as clay buildings, pottery, frescoes, and drainage systems. These artifacts prove that this was once a truly successful town before its population was wiped out forever, which makes it an even more haunting place to explore.
Located on Santorini’s southeastern coast, Ancient Thera is a city that dates all the way back to the 9th century BC. Today, its ruins still stand in impressively good condition. You can explore a theater, a military training gymnasium, administrative buildings, and multiple religious sites, including the Church of Agios Stefanos, the Temenos of Artemidoros, and the Sanctuary of Apollo Karneios, all of which can give you an idea of what life was once like here.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Santorini, Greece
If you have time, Red Beach, located close to Akrotíri, is also definitely worth a visit. The cliffs that overlook the beach are made up of red lava rocks that make for a very striking sight — as does the crystal clear turquoise waters beyond them. After you’ve seen that, move a bit more toward the south of Santorini and you’ll find White Beach, which has black lava pebbles and tall white cliffs that overlook the water.
Santorini is one of the most frequently visited parts of Greece, but thanks to its stunning sunsets, imposing cliffs, colorful towns and beaches, and important archeological sites, it is easy to see why.